New York State History Month was established by an act of the Legislature in 1997. But for many years, people have been lamenting the lack of programming to mark History Month, including New York State Historian Robert Weible who asked in a blog post, “Is New York State History Month Dead?” With a tip of the hat to Mark Twain, we’d like to say that reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated.
On Thursday, November 13, the University Club will welcome guests to one of its longest-standing traditions: the annual Duck Dinner. 106 years ago a group of University Club members got together and came up with the idea of holding an Annual Duck Dinner. The Albany Evening Journal once reported that there was something doing “from sunset and evening star till the last schooner slipped over the bar.”
The event will be held at the National Register-listed University Club of Albany, 141 Washington Avenue. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. with complimentary steamed clams and hors d’oeuvres. Dinner will be served at 7:00 p.m. Prior to 1935, wild duck was provided by University Club member Dr. Martin Van Loan, but these days, diners have their choice of farm-raised Roast Duck or Prime Rib - Baked Scrod is available by request.
The cost for the dinner is $30 – drinks additional – and reservations are required. Reservations for the November 13 Duck Dinner are required by Monday, November 10 and may be made by calling the Club at 518-463-1151; by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org; or online at www.uclubevents.blogspot.com .
Duck Dinner traditions have evolved over the years, but you’re still certain to see people in “fowl” attire and hear the sound of turkey calls echoing down the Club’s historic corridors. Guests may purchase chances to win a frozen turkey - or three. In 2013, the Club established a partnership with the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York and a number of turkeys were donated to local families.
The Duck Dinner is one of a series of 10 events comprising a Celebration of New York State History Month in November, 2014. Presented by the University Club of Albany Foundation, a 501c3 corporation, the events will be open to the public. The month-long celebration will include luncheons,
evening lectures – even a digital photo scavenger hunt – featuring experts in a variety of disciplines discussing the history of New York State and the Albany area.
New York State History Month at the University Club is sponsored by AT&T, which has long supported the Foundation’s educational programming. Media sponsor is the Times Union. Additional support is provided by the William G. Pomeroy Foundation; the New York State Academy of Family Physicians; TD Bank; and Capital Wine & Spirits.
Guests are encouraged to share the warmth of the season with our neighbors in need by making a contribution to the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York. The University Club will have a large collection box on display in the lobby, and will accept donations of non-perishable food items and checks made payable to “Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York” throughout the month of November. For every $1 donated, the Regional Food Bank can distribute $10 worth of food.
New York State History Month programs at the U Club are:
- Monday, November 3 - Mayor’s Luncheon - Albany: Our History, Our Future;
- Friday, November 7 - Reception - A Celebration of New York State History Month – Honoring the artist Len Tantillo;
- Monday, November 10 - 6 p.m. - Presentation - Art, Literature, Industry and Conflict on the Hudson with author Vernon Benjamin;
- Thursday, November 13 - Dinner - Sharing a U Club Tradition: The 106th Annual Duck Dinner;
- Friday, November 14 - 6 p.m. - Presentation - Haunted History in the North Country: The Legend of Major Duncan Campbell with Duncan Crary;
- Tuesday, November 18 - 6 p.m. - Panel Discussion - Building Modern Social Justice Movements with Barbara Smith and Dr. Virginia Eubanks, moderated by Elaine Houston of WNYT;
- Wednesday, November 19 - Luncheon - Achievement and Betrayal at the New York State Capitol - 1913 - a discussion of Gov. Sulzer with former Assemblyman Mark J. F. Schroeder;
- Friday, November 21 - 6 p.m. - Reception - History Hunt Wrap-Up Party;
- Monday, November 24 - Luncheon - New York’s Tradition of Innovation with P. Thomas Carroll, Senior Scholar and Treasurer, Hudson Mohawk Industrial Gateway; and
- Tuesday, November 25 - 6 p.m. - Presentation - Hands On History with Ann Pfau and Dave Hochfelder, founders of the “98 Acres in Albany” project, a study of buildings demolished and families uprooted for the construction of the Empire State Plaza.
New York State History Month programming is presented by the University Club of Albany Foundation, a 501c3 corporation. The Foundation was formed in 2009 to recognize and maintain the unique historic and architectural significance of the National Register-listed University Club building, its historic neighborhood and the city of Albany, where it has been located since its inception in 1901.
For more information about the University Club’s celebration of New York State History Month, including program updates, please visit www.universityclubalbany.com .